[3.6] The Pen is Mightier than the Sword - HoA Ascendant

"The pen is mightier than the sword."


This build is designed to excel at mapping and boss killing, simultaneously making it one of the strongest league starting leveling and atlas completion builds and end-game boss killer. This build can (and probably should) be played solo self-found as it is able to clear the entire game without resorting to trading with other players - in fact, trading to get gear on this character would make the game boringly easy.

Credit to Behind Eyes Gaming for making the Original version of this build which I then refined:

Pros / Cons

- Millions of DPS without the need for any expensive/unique items at all
- Can do all map mods
- Can do all game content easily
- Excellent defenses (Hardcore viable)
- Maybe not S tier, but certainly Tier 1 Map Clear

- Pets can be annoying in doorways or tight spaces
- Mobs often die behind you, forcing you to run back for loot

Build Concept / Play Style

This twist on the more traditional Herald of Agony builds puts emphasis on defenses and speed. Fire your Rain of Arrows on packs or bosses and watch them both explode with almost equal ease. We make use of high movement speed, high HP, stun and freeze immunity, and Endurance charges in combination with Life and Mana gain on hit to live through almost anything. We have permanent onslaught through our full frenzy charges (raider ascendant) so we can flask defensively while moving like a race horse on crack. If our pet gets lost or out of position, we just hit Convocation, in fact we should probably be hitting it on cooldown (I don't coz I am lazy).

POB Link: https://pastebin.com/dmJXrGKL

You can and should aim to hit Blood Aqueducts at around the 4-4.5 hour mark in a SSF setting. We can go much faster than this with leveling gear.

Only Kill high density packs, don't stand there killing single monsters or rares.

Leveling Trees: (Included in PoB link above)
22 Skill Points: http://poeurl.com/cnZG
33 Skill Points: http://poeurl.com/cnZH
55 Skill Points: http://poeurl.com/cnZI
95 Skill Points: http://poeurl.com/cnZJ (Level 70)

Lvls 01-12: Look for the links you need for your when you hit lvl 16 so you can swap to your preferred HoA setup. Also look for the fastest attack speed bow you can, only the attack speed matters.
Molten Strike + Onslaught + Ancestral Call (Prio in that Order)
Flame Dash

Lvls 12-16: You can swap to Blade Vortex if you like it, or stick with Molten Strike (I stick with MS).
Blade Vortex + Added Cold Damage + Added Fire Damage
Flame Dash

LvL 16-38: Equip whatever bow you found with the highest attack speed. Quillrain is perfect if you play trade league.
Herald of Agony + Minion Damage + Minion Speed + Pierce + Damage on Full Life + Vicious Projectiles / Empower
Rain of Arrows (17) + Faster Attacks + Lesser Poison (Swap to Poison at 31)
OR Blade Vortex + Faster Casting + Lesser Poison (Swap to Poison at 31)
Flame Dash, Convocation, Lightning Golem (Lvl 7)

End Game Gems

Herald of Agony
+ Minion Damage/Speed (Speed for map farming)
+ Damage on Full Life
+ Vicious Projectiles
+ Vile Toxins
+ Empower / Added Fire Damage (If you don't have Empower)
(If you craft a Vicous ProJ Bow, use both Added Fire and Empower).

Rain of Arrows (17)
+ Poison
+ Curse on Hit
+ Poacher's Mark
+ Projectile Weakness
+ Faster Attacks - not really necessary

Lightning Golem (5)
+ Cast When Damage taken (5)
+ Immortal Call (7)
+ Increased Duration

Flame Dash + Faster Casting
Hatred + Generosity

Ascendancy / Pantheon / Bandits

I recommend Scion - Ascendant: Juggernaut - Raider - Passives
Bandits: None of them deserve to live. Kill them all.
Pantheon: Soul of Lunaris + Soul of Ralakesh (Soul of Yugul for Uber Elder)


Warning: Our Hatred aura is giving our Agony Crawler a big chunk of cold damage. This build uses Elemental Equilibrium (a node on the skill tree which makes your elemental damage lower the resistances of the target to other Elements). We want to make sure NO cold damage is added to our attacks (our Generosity support gem stops Hatred from adding cold damage to our attacks). You will then need a source of Added Fire or Added Lightning damage (check the quiver in PoB) to trigger Elemental Equilibrium for cold vulnerability. If you are using Added Fire Damage as your 6th Link in your Herald of Agony setup, then you should try to only add Lightning damage so your Crawler's target takes more fire damage too.

You will be pleased to know that the rest of our gear is very easy. Our tree takes all the Dexterity, Intelligence and Strength that you need, so all you are looking for on gear is Life + Resistances (don't forget Chaos res).

Bow: The most important part of our gear by far. Start with a Quill Rain or just the fastest attack speed bow you can find, then collect Porcupine divination cards until you can convert to a 6-link bow. Once you have this, spam alterations until you get +1 to socketed gems. You can then regal and craft on attack speed, or if you are lucky and already got the attack speed from Alts + Regal, you can craft on +2 to socketet support gems, or + minion attack speed.

Gloves: If you can find Grip of the Council, it's a nice damage boost, but let's face it, we probably don't really need a damage boost.

Boots: Grab a pair of boots with as much + Movement Speed as you can.

One Last Thing!

KPPG has put together an excellent HoA Occultist guide which if you are unconcerned about budget, can ultimately reach eye-watering levels of Energy Shield - making it possibly a better end-game boss killer. Personally I think that Life and Mana gain on hit in combination with Freeze immunity, permanent Onslaught and 10% increased movement speed make the ascendant a better choice and easily able to clear the game on a lower budget, but his Occultist build should be considered as a solid option. In any case, I strongly suggest you check out his guide on how to craft a bow which will increase your DPS by almost 50%. Do we actually need it? Probably not.
Last edited by Rosethornx on Jun 3, 2019, 11:36:12 AM
Last bumped on May 22, 2019, 8:53:38 AM

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